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Made -- Lost -- And Found

Sermon
The Victory of Faith
New Testament Sermons For Lent And Easter
The most personal question anyone can ask is "Who am I?" It is the fundamental question of our human existence.

Who is this person whose face reflects in the mirror every morning? Who is this person who laughs and cries, who works and plays, who eats and drinks and goes to the bathroom? Who is this person who hears and sees, smells, tastes and touches the world around?

In one of his delightful books, Are You My Mother?, P.D. Eastman portrays the agonizing search for an answer to this question. When a mother bird realizes that her egg is about to hatch, she flies off to get some food for it to eat when it is born. Before she can return, the egg hatches and the little duckling emerges but does not know who or what it is. So it asks anything and everything it encounters if that thing is its mother; then, it will know who it is. The little bird asks a cow, a dog, a steam shovel, and a host of other things as it searches for its identity. The entire book portrays the steady searching of the little bird which does not stop and is not satisfied until it finds its mother.

Who am I? I am someone who is made by God! God was not absent when we came into the world. God was intimately present. "Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being." I am someone whom God forms. God holds me in his hands and gives me shape. The great God who creates the universe and scatters the stars throughout the majestic heavens reaches down and caresses the earth so lovingly as to sculpture me as an original pattern. Then, in an act so selfless -- for this great God does not want me to exist as an inanimate object for his pleasure only -- this great God breathes into me his own breath and I become alive to experience the world for myself. What a gift! Human life is a gift! We are alive by the grace of God.

The story is told about a boy who was very clever and built a wooden boat for himself. This was the finest of boats. He spent hours and hours crafting it to his delight and making sure it was capable of floating. When it was ready, he sailed it in the water holes and rain-flooded ditches near his home. With a piece of string attached to the boat and with the power of his imagination, he could sail the mighty seas on deck as skipper.

One day he brought the boat to the river and played with it there. The river's current was swift and as the boat moved out into the middle, the string that kept the boat within its maker's reach broke and the boat was carried away downstream out of sight. The boy searched and searched, but it was almost like the boat was hiding on him or the river was playing tricks on him. He did not find the boat. It was lost.

Sometimes we feel like that boat: lost. We have times in our life when we feel detached, out of reach and out of touch with God, adrift on a fast current of life going places unknown. The Bible calls this lostness sin.

Sin is separating ourselves from God. Sin is breaking the line of obedience to God, just like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Afterwards, they got "lost" in the bushes, hoping God would not find them, because they were conscious of their sin. Søren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian, writes, "Without the consciousness of sin, there is no Christianity." In our thoughts, words, and deeds we put ourselves into the swift currents of disobedience and become disconnected. The relationship with God is broken. We become lost to God.

Who am I? I am lost! Mark Twain, who plied the Mississippi River for many years, observes that our actions are what betray us, revealing the true character of our hearts. He graphically describes humanity with these pessimistic words: "Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight." Martin Luther simply referred to "me, a lost and condemned person."

Let us return to the boy who lost his boat. He went searching and one day he passed a store. As he looked in through the window, he saw his boat in a pile of wood scraps in front of a stove. The store owner had scavenged the neighborhood for wood to keep him warm. The boy rushed in and told the store owner that the boat was his. He had made it; it got lost; but now he found it. "Just a minute, young man," the store owner said. "I worked hard finding all this wood for my stove and you just can't have it. How do I know you are telling the truth? You can pay me for it though. Then, I'll let you have it."

The boy ran out of the store and immediately went to work, for he loved his boat, his own creation. He soon had the money and returned to the store just as the store owner was about to use his boat in the next kindling for the fire. "Wait," he shouted. "I have what is needed." He handed his hard-earned money to the man by the fire, grabbed his boat and left. As he was walking down the street, holding on tightly to his little creation, he was overheard to say, "Now you are twice mine. First I made you; then I bought you."

God will not let his people remain lost. He searches for them on earth and through Jesus finds them. "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," who paid the price for sin and saved us from the fires of judgment. The cradled Messiah, the boy King, the survivor of the wilderness temptations, the derelict on the cross, the resurrected Jesus has paid the price that saves us from the fires that would always burn our lives and separate us from God. He sheds his blood, "the atoning sacrifice for our sins," so that we can be found and doubly bound to God. "Now you are twice mine. First I made you. Then, I bought you."

Who am I? I am one who is found by God!

Made -- Lost and Found! This is no lie. This is the story of life. This is the foundation for faith. With this message of God's love through Jesus, you are seized, clutched to the very heart of God, who wills not to let you go.

Who am I? I am made by God. I am lost, a sinner. I am found and doubly bound to be the delight of God, who now is my delight. Amen.
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